You are on page 1of 16


Freed From the Shopkeeper's Prison

Building a Pastoral Theology -or- What Should I be Doing with My Time?

Rev. H. R. Curtis
Trinity Lutheran Church – Worden, IL
Zion Lutheran Church – Carpenter, IL

Presented General Pastors' Conference of the North Region of the IN District, LCMS, May 9, 2011.

Some famous writer, maybe it was Hemingway, said that the scariest thing in the world is a

blank sheet of paper. That is certainly the feeling I had when I arrived at work the Monday after my

ordination. What exactly does a pastor do? I found myself strangely unprepared to answer that question

after four years of pre-seminary study, three years of Mdiv study, and a vicarage. Perhaps you had

better luck, or were just a naturally wiser person, or had better mentors than I – but I was genuinely lost

and had to feel things out as I went.

There are no shortage of answers to the question, “What should the pastor be doing?” I began

my presentation by quoting Eugene Peterson's lament about the answer of the Shopkeeper Pastor set:

planning, administrating, vision questing, hobnobbing, keeping track of trends, studying demographics

for the next location, contextualizing, etc. You have graciously given me two hours of your time in

which I have tried to argue that the Shopkeeper Pastor's outlook is based on a faulty anthropology and

soteriology: that men have free will to make decisions for Christ and that there is no election to life

everlasting, but only a bunch of potential converts to be persuaded into the faith. Now I want to move

on to putting my theory into practice. What does a pastor do who believes that God is in control, that

His elect are His elect?

Let's start, though, with what you do. Every February I hold a workshop for seminarians from

CSL who wish to attend – it's called the Liturgical Parish Life Conference and we have a speaker come

in and talk about real life in the parish and then walk through the traditional ceremonies of the Lutheran

Divine Service. I also give them all a copy of a resource CD – it includes stuff like cathechesis

manuals, premarital counseling programs, helps for explaining stuff to your board of elders, etc. etc.

Basically everything I have found useful in my ministry so that these guys are not starting from square


But as worthy as I think all of those resources are, perhaps the best thing on that CD is a bunch

of diaries I asked a lot of pastors to make. Not diaries really, more like a lawyer's billable hours sheet.

If you are blessed never to have had to hire a lawyer, let me explain. Lawyers make about seven billion

dollars per hour. They need to bill, therefore, down to fractions of an hour. In fact, I got this idea from a

friend from college who went on to be a lawyer at a big firm in Omaha. She was complaining to us how

she had to stop what she was doing every 15 minutes and write down what she had been doing in the

last quarter hour.

So I asked a good many pastors I know to keep this kind of detailed “billable hours diary” for a

week. I asked senior pastors form big parishes, associate pastors, pastors a dual parishes, small

parishes, etc. etc. As a first step toward your refreshment in the ministry, I encourage you do the same.

When I did I discovered several inefficiencies and deficiencies that needed corrected. I changed my

schedule to better fit my theology – and once I had that new schedule I kept the diary again and shared

it with my board of elders. I mean to repeat the process now at least once a year.

For now, think for a moment about your typical week. Of course, typical weeks are few and far

between – but think, what is your Sunday like? Now Monday – is that your day off or a work day?

What time do you get up? What do you typically do on Mondays? On Tuesdays? What meetings are

scheduled? What classes do you have to teach? On Wednesday now – and Thursday – and Friday – and

Saturday. If I were a cruel and vindictive presenter who actually listened in education classes at

Concordia Seward I would not ask you to break up into small groups and write all this down. But

behold, I am gentle and gracious and slow to believe such nonsense – so just think about it for a minute

and really do it for a week when you get back to the parish.

Now, how does your week stack up to your theology? Are you doing what a pastor should be

doing? To find out, to begin building our pastoral theology, let us begin at the beginning with your

ordination vows. What did you promise to do? What does the Church think it is important enough to

require of you before you begin?

First, you were asked if you believed that the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments

were the Word of God. You said that you did. I hope you still do. If you do, they might be important to

read, yes?

Second, you said that you believed that the three Ecumenical Creeds were faithful testimonies

to the Scriptures and that you rejected the errors they condemned. So I reckon you ought to know what

those are.

Third, you confessed that the Augsburg Confession and the rest of the Book of Concord were in

agreement with the one Scriptural faith. This presupposes a thorough knowledge of them.

Fourth, we turn from what you believe to what you will do. You promised to perform the duties

of your office in accordance with the Confessions, and conform your preaching and teaching to these

Confessions. So you are supposed to preach and teach.

Fifth, a veritable list of duties: instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian

doctrine, forgive the sins of the penitent and never divulge them for any reason, minister to the sick and

dying, admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living.

Sixth, that you will lead a holy life, be diligent in the study of Holy Scripture and the

Confessions, and be constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care.

So now, let us evaluate your schedule according to your vows. Here is the list of duties again

put in logical order:

 Lead a godly life


 Diligently study the Scriptures and the Confessions

 Be constant in prayer for those under your care

 Preach and teach in accordance with the Confessions

 Administer the Sacraments in accord with the Scriptures and the Confessions

 Instruct young and old in the faith

 Forgive the sins of the penitent and not divulge their sins

 Minister to the sick and dying

 Admonish and encourage the people to confidence in Christ and holy living

What an interesting list. It's what we swore to do – these the the things that the Church force us

to avow ourselves to. This is the shape and plan of the plow handle to which we have set our hands and

from which we dare not turn back. But, oddly enough, we tend to evaluate ourselves and our brothers

in the ministry by other rubrics. For us, a pastor is successful if his church is growing, or at least not

shrinking, or if he encountered a church with a deficit and he fixed it, or if a decline in membership was

halted, or if a new building was built. We like our evaluations to have numbers, things to count, weigh,

and measure.

That's what a Shopkeeper wants: countable numberble things to put down in an accountant's set

of double books. But look again at the list that the vows have given you. Not one Shopkeeper Pastor

concern on the list. Nothing about growing the church. Nothing about finances at all. Nothing about

attracting the unbeliever. Nothing about going out in public and proselytizing. Nothing about standing

on street corners, seeking out unbelievers, or pining over pagans. Isn't that fascinating? Given the

rhetoric that has become quite common in American Lutheranism surely we would have expected this –

but it's not there. The focus is very much on the sheep under a pastor's care.

Or think of it geographically – these vows place the pastor in the pulpit, in the classroom, at the

font, before the altar, in the confessional booth, and in the study.

I do not believe that it is an accident that these vows contain no countable Shopkeeper concerns.

Listen to the preamble to the vows: “God gathers His Church by and around His Holy Gospel and

thereby also grants it growth and increase according to His good pleasure.” Again, the ministry to the

Church is what is in focus. And again, reliance on the divine activity of God is the thing. And note well

that phrase “according to His good pleasure.” That, of course, comes from the Augsburg Confession

where the Holy Spirit creates faith through the Word and Sacraments “when and where he pleases.”

This really makes any kind of Shopkeeper evaluation impossible. It is simply not theologically

possible for us Lutherans to evaluate someone's preaching based on how many converts he gets:

because we believe that the Word only works “when and where God pleases.” You cannot tell how

much truth a man has preached by how many converts he gets – because the Holy Spirit works when

and where he pleases as the Word is preached. You cannot say Jesus had an unsuccessful day in John 6

when “many disciples” left, or that Paul's preaching in Pamphylia was unfruitful because only those

appointed to eternal life believed it. Isn't that interesting? The Shopkeeper has just had his legs knocked

out from under him. Because if you can’t judge on numbers, what are we left to judge on? If you

cannot evaluate ministry based on growing, shrinking, building, or counting – then what shall we

measure a pastor by?

Back to the list of ordination vows of course - and your schedule. For there is one countable

thing that is countable by the nature of things and cannot be got around: time. How do you spend your

time? Consider your schedule. Let us go vow by vow. And let us be brutally honest with ourselves. Let

us let the Law have its way with us – and let us not pretend that we have access to the Gospel apart

from repentance.

Lead a Godly Life

Now, first off we made the promise to lead a godly life. No one expects you to be perfect, but

you did swear to lead a life free from gross outward sin and to seek to keep yourself from free

entangling vice. A former district president in Northern Illinois was known to give this simple

admonishment to his pastors: Don't lie to your people, Don't steal from your people, and Don't sleep

with anybody but your wife. A good start. But the best advice I ever received on this score was indeed

something you can put down in your schedule: go to confession.

What would we think of a pastor who never received the Lord's Supper? How can you teach the

Small Catechism and never take communion? We might ask the same thing about Confession &

Absolution. How can we teach the Small Catechism, how can we be diligently studying the

Confessions, and never make use of one of the six Chief Parts?

Like you I grew up in a normal Lutheran parish in Middle America. I never went to confession

growing up. I never really even heard of it until college. And I never got up the nerve to go until

seminary when the hypocrisy of teaching the catechism and not doing what it said was staring me

squarely in the face. It has changed my life. Nothing makes sin more repulsive than saying it out loud

to another man. There is no substitute for this in the fight to lead a godly life. Luther said that we

should be glad to run 100 miles to go to confession and receive absolution. You need it more than your

people do – especially if you struggle with a besetting sin. Find a good father confessor, someone who

takes his ordination vows seriously, and go. Committees like the one that put this conference together

should make double sure that opportunities for Confession are part of these twice yearly meetings. You

need to live a godly life, the devil is out to get you, especially you, because of what your fall would

mean as a scandal to the Church – so you need this tool which Christ has left for your benefit.

Diligently study the Scriptures and Confessions

Are you diligently studying the Scriptures and the Confessions? How much time does

“diligently” require? When was the last time you read the Lutheran Confessions beyond the Small

Catechism? Look at your diary of billable hours and see how much time you are spending reading the

Bible and Confessions. And then ask how much of that reading counts for “diligently studying.” And

then ask, how much time does it take to diligently keep up a lawn? How much time does it take to

diligently prepare for deer season? How much time does it take to diligently follow current events, or

keep up on your favorite TV show?

Repent. You are wasting your life and breaking your ordination vows. How do I know you are

doing this? Call it a hunch after looking at my own diary of billable hours. I will spend hours crafting

the perfect .357 round for my lever action carbine (it's a 125 grain lead truncated cone bullet over 7.1

grains Unique powder seated to 1.575 inches with a light crimp), painting steel targets, and setting

everything up. I will plan my next hunting trip with all the minutes I can spare from August through

November. I can sit and read a book by Albert J. Nock or a biography of Samuel de Champlain for

hours at a time with deep interest and be annoyed if I am bothered by the kids. But do I spent a tenth of

this time each week in the Scriptures? Do I spend a hundredth of this time each week in the


Brothers, we must repent. We swore to study these books diligently. Since there is nothing in the

vows that is countable, I cannot tell you when you have studied them long enough or hard enough. I

cannot give you a minimum requirement that would soon become a maximum result anyway. But I can

tell you that when the Law confronts us with our sins, the only answer is to repent. And I think we can

safely say that we should be as diligent about studying the Scriptures and the Confessions as we are

about our hobbies. That seems to be a good rule of thumb.

With our hobbies we are always each to learn more – too often with the Scriptures and the

Confessions we think that there is nothing new to learn. But we know that is a lie. We know we cannot

exhaust the Holy Spirit's knowledge and work. The only thing that has ever worked for me is setting

aside the time first thing every day. And this should include our day's off. There are a plethora of

reading schedules, lectionaries, and so forth to keep you on track. A very simple place to start is with

the fantastic Treasury of Daily Prayer and its readings from the OT, NT, and devotional writings right

there in the book as well as suggested readings in the Book of Concord. The great benefit of following

this course of reading as a first step toward diligent study is that it is widely available for both yourself

and your laity.

But I think the main thing to regain – and you will regain it if you start this reading – is your

curiosity in the things of God. If you force yourself to be disciplined in this reading, you will encounter

questions – things you don't understand – things you want to know more about. At that point, go follow

that lead, track down the answer. This is how we first learned to love the idea of being a pastor.

Recapture your first love and this will cease to be a burden and become a pleasure.

Be Constant in Prayer for Those under Your Care

Similarly with prayer. Many of us never really learn to pray. The saints, Luther among them,

who were truly devoted to prayer have always been something of a mystery to me. But we must seek to

understand and act on this – we promised to, after all. The Church made us promise to be constant in

prayer. How is this done? How do we pray?

Well, if baptism is our birth into the Kingdom of God, if the Word of God is our true spiritual

milk, if the holy Body and Blood of our Lord in his Supper is a Christian’s real food and drink, then

prayer is our breath. And if it is breath then it is given to us, for in God’s Word no one may take a

breath, but only receive it as a gift. In the garden Adam received God’s own breath in order that he

might breathe and be a living soul. God breathed in, Adam breathed out. When Ezekiel saw the vision

of the Dry Bones of Israel, God instructed him to call on the Breath that it might enter those lifeless

bodies and revivify them. God breathed in, Israel breathed out.

We must learn to prayer this way. This is what the services of the Church have been trying to

teach us. In our worship we receive God’s breath, his Word, as we hear what he has said to us and as

we say it back to him in Introit, Kyrie, Tract, and Sanctus. God breathes in, the liturgy breathes out.

And if God does not breathe in, we can neither inhale nor exhale. For like a man with a rock on his

chest we do not have the power to draw in our own air; or rather, like a disoriented ocean diver who

cannot read the labels on her diving tanks, we don’t know what we should breath.

Eugene Peterson identifies the Psalms as the place to start in his book that I have referred to

before, Working the Angles, and I think he is right. This is how Luther learned to pray in the monastery

and it always stayed with him. Come to think of us, most all of the great pray-ers in Christian history

have this relationship with the Psalms. Again, I think the answer to recapturing a desire to be constant

in prayer is to be disciplined by the Church's discipline. Pray Matins or Vespers or both everyday. Put it

on the parish schedule and do it in the Church. This will help keep you honest and it will also invite the

congregation to a better devotion as well. I think this is something we could really learn from the old

Anglican village church. Fans of Agatha Christie know how often Morning Prayer and Evensong figure

into the plot. They were a living part of parish life right into the middle 20th century.

Being constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care also changes the way you see your

parishioners, makes the conflicts easier to bear, gives you humility, inspired patience and perspective. It

really is true, you know, what the hymn says, “oh, what help we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain

we bear.”

Preach, Teach, and Administer the Sacraments in accordance with the Scriptures and the


The first step here, of course, is that diligent study we have already mentioned. And the second

step is to honestly evaluate your practice. Are you being faithful? The Confessions describe Churches

of the Augsburg Confession as churches that celebrate the Lord's Supper every Lord's Day and on other

High Festivals. Does that describe your practice? The Confessions say that we are not frivolous in our

worship and that ceremonies we use should teach the people. When was the last time you really thought

about how you conduct the Divine Service, the ceremonies you use?

Is your practice of admitting people to the Lord's Supper causing a neighboring pastor grief?

Are you in harmony with others in your circuit on this topic? If you make a tough call, do you seek

advice from other brothers, your circuit counselor, or your DP?

When was the last time you read a book about preaching? Or even read a sermon by someone

other than yourself?

Forgive the Sins of the Penitent and Never Divulge their Sins

Look at your diary of billable hours. How much of that time do you set aside for keeping this

vow? But, you say, nobody would come. How do you know? Have you set aside the time? Have you

encouraged people to make use of Confession & Absolution? If you start using it yourself, you will

realize just what a blessing it is and will want your congregants to have access to is as well.

Instruct the Young and Old in the Faith

I fear that it is only the rite of confirmation and the visceral attachment to it among our people

that has saved us from ourselves here. We are forced, as it were, to at least keep up with instructing the

young in the faith. Yet I know of places where the pastor has passed this duty off to a DCE here or a

vicar their. You swore to do this. You are the catechist of the parish. You promised that you would

instruct them – not oversee the instruction, by instruct them yourself.

Both young and old you are to instruct – how does instruction of your flock at large work in

your schedule? What Bible classes do you teach? What part does instruction in the Christian faith play

in your preaching?

Minister to the Sick and Dying

Taking God's Word and Sacrament to the nursing home and the hospital bed to the shut ins is

one of the most time consuming parts of your ministry. Too bad. You swore to do it. You and not

another. Having a deaconess or an elder visit the old ladies is nice – but you are supposed to minister to

them with Word and Sacrament. You and not another.


Admonish the people to confidence in Christ and holy living

That's right – you are to preach faith and good works. You are not allowed to be “weak on

sanctification” in your preaching. You swore that you would admonish to holy living alongside

preaching faith in Christ. Read the Epistles. This is what the Apostles did too. It is hard. It is difficult to

stay on the narrow path that runs between the ditches of antinomianism and works-righteousness. This

will call upon you to think carefully about how you preach and teach.

Summary of the Vows

So far the ordination vows. And if you do these things well, if you set aside time to study the

Scriptures and the Confessions diligently, and to be constant in prayer, and to instruct young and old,

and to prepare well for preaching and teaching and admonishing, and to hear confession, and to

minister unto the sick and dying, what else will you have time for? What else could you have time for?

At this point you are no doubt ready to plead the argument of reality: yes, these are my vows

and I strive to keep them. But let's be realistic. I've got to go to the school board meeting. And if the

bills are not getting paid, that is a real problem. And plans do have to be made. And I must meet with

the staff. And I must meet with the committees. And I must. . .

Right. I get it. I've been part of a multiple pastor staff at a big church with a gagiliion things

going on and as a many problems and crises that have to be handled right now. And I've been the only

pastor at a parish struggling to keep a school open and the funds balanced. And I've been all of that

while being a dad and husband. I know what you mean. You are pulled in too many directions.

And that is exactly why the Church made you take these vows. These are the most important

things. These are the boundaries of your ministry. Yes, you will have to go beyond them, you will have

to be a father to your parish, and a business manager, and a janitor, and a hundred other things. But you

must keep your vows in focus or you will get lost in the wilderness of all these extracurriculars. That's

what they are: extra, beyond what you are called to do, and what you are called to do is all consuming.

If the extras are not serving the called duties, if they are in fact hogging all the time you have for the

called duties of the ministry, your sworn duty, then you will need to change, to educate your

parishioners, to hold up these vows and say: this is what I am called to do.

If you follow the gurus from Arminian American Evangelicalism, the Saddlebacks, and the

Mars Hills, and the so forths and so ons, you will get a different list of things to do and your schedule

will look different. Many a Lutheran has been tempted by putting the Shopkeeper concerns first and

foremost. And if you follow the Shopkeeper rubrics you will get Shopkeeper results, I don't doubt it. Or

at least some will. For the whole Shopkeeper plan is so very pigeonholed, limited in time and place. We

drool over one guru or another and his Shopkeeper success: more members, new buildings, no financial


But I want one of these Shopkeepers to come out to backwoods Illinois where I currently serve,

to a town of 1000 and do the same thing. I want them to go to a Mississippi river town in southeast

Iowa and show me their Shopkeeper plan. I want them to go to St. Philip's on the southside of Chicago

and try their polo shirts, square glasses, and white guy rock music in that neighborhood. Or they could

go to the isolated Nebraska town I grew up in – 80 miles from I-70 and 70 miles from I-80 with 8000

people and the largest town for 70 miles in any direction.

We know intuitively and from hard experience that their plans don't work here. I was once

invited to attend a conference called Excellent Catholic Parishes and Excellent Protestant

Congregations. I had a fellowship from the Fund for Theological Education and they kindly shipped me

off to New Orleans to hear a gaggle of gurus all gathered together. This was a shop of Shopkeeper

pastors and every one of them running a top notch shop. Finally, I rose to ask one of them – a fellow

from an Atlanta suburb – why it was that so many of the gurus and he himself were leading lilly white

congregations in growing suburbs? Why didn't he take these techniques to East St. Louis or inner city

Atlanta? Why didn't he take his success to where it was really needed? If he was so good at ministering,

why not take it where there was very little ministering to go around?

His response was that white suburbanites need saving too and that these were the techniques

that worked for them. After that I briefly considered following my heart for ministry to rich people who

own yachts and developing techniques for them. . . But alas, I am bound by my ordination vows to

more universal practices. Your ordination vows will guide you whether your parish is large or small,

black or white or Hispanic, rural or urban or exurban or suburban or regentrified, or anything else.

These are truly catholic. They are not one sized fits all, but all sizes fit them.

This can be seen by looking back at the pastoral guides of old. Oddly enough, they line up with

the ordination vows. These are the timeless, central, all consuming duties of the pastor. Johann Gerhard

identifies seven duties in his early 17th century Loci theologici under the Ministry.

(1) the preaching of the heavenly Word; (2) the administration of the sacraments; (3) praying for the

flock entrusted to them; (4) the honorable management of their life and behavior; (5) the administration

of church discipline; (6) the preservation of the rituals of the church; (7) the care of the poor and the

visitation of the sick.

Indeed, these are right out of our 21st century ordination vows – he only gets more specific

about preaching and administering the Sacraments by listing church discipline and the preservation of

the rituals of the Church as separate items.

About a half century before Gerhard, we find Chemnitz' Enchiridion. If there is one thing I

could want you to read about being a pastor, it is this book. Chemnitz was assigned the task of being

the Lord Superintendent, that is, it was his job to instruct the superintendents in how to examine and

regulate the pastors under them. This book is an excellent summation of Lutheran theology – in fact

large chucks of it were simply copy and pasted into the Formula of Concord – and a spur to better

practice. He says that superintendents should examine their pastors according to what is written in this

book twice a year! We are considering duties for parish pastors today, but that says a lot about what

district presidents ought to be doing. When was the last time you heard of a DP calling up a pastor to

examine the latter's theology?

Well, here is Chemnitz' list for what a pastor does:

2. What, then, is the office of the ministers of the church?

I. To feed the church of God with the true, pure, and salutary doctrine of the divine Word. Acts 20:28;
Eph 4:11; 1 Ptr 5:2
II. To administer and dispense the sacraments of Christ according to His institution. Mt. 28:19; I Co
III. To administer rightly the use of the keys of the church, or of the kingdom of heaven, by either
remitting or retaining sins (Mt 16:19; Jn 20:23), and to fulfill all these things and the whole ministry (as
Paul says, 2 Ti 4:5) on the basis of the prescribed command, which the chief Shepherd Himself has
given His ministers in His Word for instruction. Mt 28:20.

Chemnitz also set the example that Gerhard would later follow when it came to the pastor's duty

toward faithfully leading the flock in worship. Listen to these words:

“Part 3. With regard to the doctrine concerning ecclesiastical ceremonies (which we first said would be
the third chief part of this examination), it is contained and set forth in the church order. Pastors should
also be examined with regard to that very doctrine, so that they might both have the right understanding
of it and be able rightly to explain it to their hearers. Likewise, one should inquire whether and how
they observe those ceremonies. Superintendents should also confer with pastors regarding marriage
orders, incorporated in the church order, that they might have the necessary understanding also of

Our generation has famously done away with the notion of church orders: the books that

contained exactly how worship was to be conducted by the pastors in a given geographical area. This

goes a bit beyond the scope of this presentation – but it is worth nothing just how important the first

two generations of Lutherans thought this was. It certainly disproves the assertion that even having

agreed upon rules for worship is unevangelical and against the Formula's Tenth article on adiaphora.

Here is the man who wrote that article telling us that all the pastors under him were required to follow a

church order! What the Confessions condemn is stating that man made ceremonies may be required for

salvation. The Confessions do not condemn, but rather approve, binding church orders on large

geographical areas. And see if you don't find these words from Gerhard prophetic: The sixth duty of

ministers of the church involves the preservation of the rites of the church. To be sure, the institution of

those rituals pertains not only to ministers of the church but also to the Christian magistrate and ought

to be done with the consensus of the whole church. Nevertheless, this preservation is correctly assigned

to ministers lest they either change or abrogate the rituals accepted by the public authority of the

church on the basis of their personal whim. Rather, they should preserve them to protect harmony and

promote good order. For although church rituals by nature are adiaphora since God’s Word neither

commands nor forbids them, and though they do not of themselves constitute some portion of divine

worship, nevertheless their abrogation ought not occur merely because of one party in the church.

For two or three generations now, your church body has allowed one party or another to change

the ceremonies and orders of worship in the Church according to the whim of the pastor in this place or

that. Has that promoted harmony and good order? How many congregations have suffered through

terrible conflict over this issue?

Where is Evangelism?

Well, as I said that is a bit besides the point (but just a bit). Your duties are described for you

very well in your ordination vows. Keeping up with them is a full time job to say the least. They

require much from you in time, energy, and spiritual fortitude. And isn't it surprising to us in these latter

days that no where in the vows, nor in Gerhard's list, nor Chemnitz's, nor the Confession's is what we

commonly think of as Evangelism or Outreach? It's just not there.

I think it is not there because what we commonly think of as evangelism is not the Biblical

picture. But notice how well the ordination vows line up with our study of the Scriptures from

yesterday. How did the Apostles minister? They went to the synagogue and preached to all who would

gather there. They administered the Sacraments, they preached, they prayed, they taught the people.

And behold, the Word did its trick. When and where it was pleasing to God, faith was created, and

more came to hear.

Remember the geography of those ordination vows: they require pastors to be in the pulpit, in

the classroom, at the font, before the altar, in the confessional booth, and in the study. And that is just

where we see Paul and Peter. And yet, the work of evangelism gets done. You see, since they are

confident that God has his elect who will be gathered, they can be diligent in study and prayer and

teaching and leave the gathering to God. They can catechize the people to be ready to give an answer

when people ask them – and the Holy Spirit will gather his elect through the Word.

Or again, think: Who is your audience? Whom do you serve? The Shopkeeper gurus talk about

demographics: know your audience and accommodate them. But your audience is the elect. What

draws the elect? The Word of God. Shall you make your church a place where unbelievers are

comfortable or where the elect are comfortable?

Or again, the shepherd metaphor – Jesus calls you to be a pastor, one who tends and feeds

sheep. Sheep multiply by husbandry not magic; sheep multiply when sheep are cared for, not when the

shepherd goes running after goats and cats and trying to turn them into sheep.

But I want to save the rest of this discussion for our last hour. Then, I will talk about how I

teach congregations about evangelism – exactly how it should be gone about.